By Sam Eyoboka
TUESDAY makes it exactly one year since Leah Sharibu was kidnapped with 109 other innocent school girls from their Government Girl’s Science and Technical College, Dapchi in Yobe State by Islamic States West African Provinces, ISWAP-ISIS which is said to be headed by Abdul-Fadl Iyad Gali.
While the rest of the girls were released one month after the abduction, apart from five who died on their way into the forest, Leah Sharibu is still being held back on the ground of her faith in Christ which she refused to denounce.
Throughout the last 365 days, the Federal Government which has pledged on a number of occasions to free the girl, has failed to secure her release, just as there is no news or empirical evidence to ascertain her current state which has put the parents and her only brother in perpetual pensive mood.
The father, Nathan Sharibu and his wife, Theresa yesterday tearfully hosted a horde of Christian brothers and sisters in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State, to intercede on behalf of Leah and all other captives across the nation. Like any parent in such predicament, they were expecting the miraculous to happen as it happened last March when 104 fellow students were effortlessly driven in trucks to freedom in Dapchi.
While political machinations and manipulation for elections have reached saturation point with such feverish desperation in Nigeria, the tragedy of Leah Sharibu’s continued captivity has not only been completely set aside but treated as a non-issue. The twosome has been praying for a miracle.
Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam of the Citizens Monitoring Group (CMG), one of the groups that collaborated with the Leah Sharibu Foundation to midwife recent prayer rally in Abuja where they reminded the Federal Government of several earlier pledges by the Buhari Administration to release the teen girl unhurt to her parents.
The cleric who is also the IFES regional Secretary for English and Portuguese-speaking Africa, (EPSA) said: “I have just finished a brief phone conversation first with Leah’s mum and soon after with her father and then prayed with both of them and for Leah, Donald, via speaker phone and encouraged them.
“The God of justice reigns. Boko Haram won’t escape God’s divine mighty intervention on Leah’s behalf and others in captivity. The parents are strong in Christ but one could feel the pain in their hearts. My own heart is heavy.
“They personally asked me to thank you all for standing with them. I told them of efforts each person and group is making. Please let’s continue. They need every support at this point and how they will spend the rest of today (yesterday) without Leah. But the GOD of miracles remains. May God hear the cries of His people for the oppressed and set the captives free. Leah will be free in Jesus name!” he stated.
Para-Mallam, in an interview with DAILYPOST in Jos, the Plateau State capital, said: “Never did I imagine that the heroine of the Christian faith in the 21st century—15-year old Leah Sharibu—would still be in captivity, completing 365 full days on February 19, 2019, making it one year. It’s unbelievable but a reality we are accepting and coping with. Not easy.
“I can imagine if some of us feel this way, what her parents must be feeling right now. I want to restate over and over again that; Leah Sharibu and others in captivity will never be forsaken and forgotten”, he maintained.
According to him, “Leah is today a living history before our very eyes in this day and age. Who could have thought that an icon of the Christian Faith in the 21st Century – a symbol of faith resilience would emerge from North Eastern Nigeria?” he asked.
“Even more intriguing from the geo-political space identified as the epicentre of Boko Haram insurgency? Yet God allowed it!” the cleric said, adding “God is making a powerful statement through the captivity and courage of Leah Sharibu. Christianity can never be destroyed by Boko Haram or any force on earth; spiritual or physical, temporal (short-term) or long-term.
“It is tragic and a political miscalculation for the Presidential candidates to dodge talking publicly about their respective commitment to free Leah and others in captivity. Their uneasy silence on the plight of Leah Sharibu and others shows how Nigerian politicians care less about the citizens they seek to govern,” he noted.
He, however, said they can still redeem themselves by issuing public statements.
“The postponement of the first part of the elections should be seen as a period of grace for them to act on this matter. But one may not be too hard on them. Is it any wonder that they could all be clueless?
“That, to me, is the tragic reality staring them and us as a nation in the face. We appear to live and lead in a country that suggests we have lost control. Therefore, Leah’s case has become a matter of conscience for our leaders, both those in office and those seeking to enter office,” he admonished.
“My prayer remains that God will not only free Leah but through her, others such as Alice Ngaddah and several unknown captives; Muslims and Christians alike, that they all will regain their freedom.
“My appeal and question to Boko Haram is: Where is your humanity? Imagine if Leah were your daughter, would you like what you are doing to her? Against her will and consent? God never forces anyone to convert!” he stated.